What do you think about this landscaping plan?

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What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by Tony » Tue, 24 Sep 2002 00:57:07



My backyard is approximately 60' deep and 100' wide.  The back fence line
has about 5 mature trees (oaks, mostly) that generate a lot of shade.  The
rear portion of the yard gets dappled shade.  About half of the back of yard
has _very hard_ clay soil that currently just gets baked by our Florida sun.

My wife and I would like to renovate the back yard and convert most of it
into a flower/plant garden.  Our first step is to get the soil into a shape
where it can handle the addition of plants.  To that end, my wife and I have
considered the following and wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions.

Step one would be to get a pole saw and remove low*** branches from the
trees and thin them out a bit to allow a bit more sun into portions of the
back yard.  The trees seem very healthy and so this shouldn't in any way
harm them.

After that we plan to rent a roto-tiller and till the area where we later
plan to put plant beds in.  This will be between 1/3rd and 1/2 of the back
yard.  At this same time we would bring in one dump truck load of topsoil to
incorporate with what we currently have .

After this, we would bring in a load of mulch, and heavily mulch this entire
area.  Once this was done we would plan to let this sit until next year in
order to allow the mulch to begin to decompose and allow earthworms and such
to begin working in these areas.

Next year we would add an inground irrigation system and begin bringing
plants into this area.

This seems like a big job and we'd plan to do it ourselves with the possible
assistance of some willing friends.  Does this seem like a good plan?  Any
suggestions?

One big question we're wrestling with this what to do with the "grass" in
the area we're planning to work with.  There's not much grass there overall
(due to the hard soil) but there are some fairly healthy patches.  Would it
be OK to just till this into the soil in order to add organic material or is
this asking for trouble?  I'd figure that the addition of heavy mulch over
the top would stop this from growing and cause it decay.  True?

I've heard that gypsum is good to use with heavy clay soil as it causes it
to lose it's solidity.  Would it be beneficial to work some of this into the
existing soil when we till it?

Any other ideas or hints would be welcome.

Tony

 
 
 

What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by Wendy B » Tue, 24 Sep 2002 01:53:06


You might want to consider putting the new topsoil into raised beds, instead of
rototilling with your hard clay. You can use landscape pavers to construct
raised beds with curved borders.

Be careful about the quality of the topsoil you buy. We bought a truckload of
"topsoil," and it was mostly clay :-(.

Wendy
Wilmington, DE (Zone 7)

 
 
 

What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by Tsu Dho Nim » Tue, 24 Sep 2002 03:02:39


Quote:

>My backyard is approximately 60' deep and 100' wide.  The back fence line
>has about 5 mature trees (oaks, mostly) that generate a lot of shade.  The
>rear portion of the yard gets dappled shade.  About half of the back of yard
>has _very hard_ clay soil that currently just gets baked by our Florida sun.

  You have the possibility of having a WIDE variety of plants.

Quote:
>My wife and I would like to renovate the back yard and convert most of it
>into a flower/plant garden.  Our first step is to get the soil into a shape
>where it can handle the addition of plants.  To that end, my wife and I have
>considered the following and wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions.

  Your first step should be to start with a REALLY good plot of
what is where, what is shady or sunny and where you want the
plants ... plan first and plant later.
  This is one place where plan as you go doesn't work well, and
it has the strong possibility of costing you a lot of time,
effort and money if you try wo "wing it".

Quote:
>Step one would be to get a pole saw and remove low*** branches from the
>trees and thin them out a bit to allow a bit more sun into portions of the
>back yard.  The trees seem very healthy and so this shouldn't in any way
>harm them.

  Pruning the branches up a bit so you can walk under them,or to
create a shady sitting spot is a good idea, but if you thin them
out to allow more sun, then plant sun-loving plants, you have
comitted yourself to continuing to prune so those plants don't
die.  That's a lot of work!

  The more rational plan would be to plant shade lovers (and
there are lots of them) where you have shade and dappled shade to
minimize the amount of pruning you have to do.  
  In the sunny spots, plant the sun-lovers and vegetables.  

Quote:
>After that we plan to rent a roto-tiller and till the area where we later
>plan to put plant beds in.  This will be between 1/3rd and 1/2 of the back
>yard.

  Make sure you don't rototill the area where the trees have
their roots.  Oaks are VERY picky about having their shallow
roots messed with.  they hate having them tilled, paved, or
buried with lots of dirt.  They DIE.

  You don't need to rototill at all ... it's overrated.

Quote:
> At this same time we would bring in one dump truck load of topsoil to
>incorporate with what we currently have .

  With a back yard that is 60x100 feet (667 square yards, divide
this by the number of inches you want to lay on top), you need
18+ cubic yards of mterial to get a 1-inch layer of amendment.
That's a BIG dumptruck - the usual ones carry 8-10 cubic yards of
material.

Quote:
>After this, we would bring in a load of mulch, and heavily mulch this entire
>area.  Once this was done we would plan to let this sit until next year in
>order to allow the mulch to begin to decompose and allow earthworms and such
>to begin working in these areas.

  Heavily mulching would be 6-8 inches, or 80 cubic yards, which
is 8-10 truckloads of mulch.  Once you start spreading, it
doesn't go as far as you think it will.

Skip the "topsoil" and go straight to the heavy mulch.
  Look up "lasagna gardening" on the web.  It's a no-till way to
Garden involving layers of paper and organic material.  the
natural processes take care of the rest, the gardener just piles
on the mulch frequently.

Quote:
>Next year we would add an inground irrigation system and begin bringing
>plants into this area.

  Start with the drip system ... you need to have a good garden
plan BEFORE you start digging trenches or your water lines will
be in the wrong spots.

Quote:
>One big question we're wrestling with this what to do with the "grass" in
>the area we're planning to work with.  There's not much grass there overall
>(due to the hard soil) but there are some fairly healthy patches.  Would it
>be OK to just till this into the soil in order to add organic material or is
>this asking for trouble?  I'd figure that the addition of heavy mulch over
>the top would stop this from growing and cause it decay.  True?

Yes ... mulch over it and it turns into decayed grass  -
otherwise known as compost.

Tsu Dho Nimh

--
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes.
That way, when you criticize him, you are a mile away from him and you have his shoes.

 
 
 

What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by mudrat.detecto » Tue, 24 Sep 2002 06:15:26


Quote:

> My backyard ...

> One big question we're wrestling with this what to do with the "grass" in
> the area we're planning to work with.  There's not much grass there overall
> (due to the hard soil) but there are some fairly healthy patches.  Would it
> be OK to just till this into the soil in order to add organic material or is
> this asking for trouble?  I'd figure that the addition of heavy mulch over
> the top would stop this from growing and cause it decay.  True?

> ...

> Any other ideas or hints would be welcome.

> Tony

I have a >healthy< St. Augustine yard and the front portion of the front yard
takes about a two and a half foot dive to the sidewalk - which is, needless to
say, a nightmare to mow.  I am currently turning this hillside into a flower bed
that does not require mowing and I had this same dilemma of what to do with the
grass.  I hated to see this healthy sod just turn into dirt so I hand lettered a
cardboard sign to say "FREE ST. AUGUSTINE" and propped it up on the street.  The
normal Saturday morning traffic was enough to give this turf a good home to the
first car that drove by.

Careful with your sign, though, as I am sure that "FREE ST. AUGUSTINE" or "FREE
BERMUDA" will attract the right crowd more so than "FREE GRASS".  :o)

chris

 
 
 

What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by Frogl » Mon, 30 Sep 2002 20:28:35




Quote:
>My backyard is approximately 60' deep and 100' wide.  The back fence line
>has about 5 mature trees (oaks, mostly) that generate a lot of shade.  The
>rear portion of the yard gets dappled shade.  About half of the back of yard
>has _very hard_ clay soil that currently just gets baked by our Florida sun.

<extensive snip>

There are heaps of lovely books on landscaping subjects. [Don't know
about web sites, but you could try searching on various combinations
of "landscaping," "soil preparation," and various other topics of
particular concern to you.]  

However, this sounds like a major project, and it might be worth
calling around to see if there're garden centers/landscaping firms
that could do an on-site consult for a fee. As long as it is
understood from the beginning that you're not planning on contracting
for work/plants, and simply want some expert advice, you should be
able to find someone to give reasonably disinterested suggestions and
methods.

 
 
 

What do you think about this landscaping plan?

Post by Beecroft » Wed, 02 Oct 2002 02:39:36


Quote:

> My backyard is approximately 60' deep and 100' wide.  The back fence line
> has about 5 mature trees (oaks, mostly) that generate a lot of shade.  The
> rear portion of the yard gets dappled shade.  About half of the back of yard
> has _very hard_ clay soil that currently just gets baked by our Florida sun.

> My wife and I would like to renovate the back yard and convert most of it
> into a flower/plant garden.  Our first step is to get the soil into a shape
> where it can handle the addition of plants.  To that end, my wife and I have
> considered the following and wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions.

> Step one would be to get a pole saw and remove low*** branches from the
> trees and thin them out a bit to allow a bit more sun into portions of the
> back yard.  The trees seem very healthy and so this shouldn't in any way
> harm them.

> After that we plan to rent a roto-tiller and till the area where we later
> plan to put plant beds in.  This will be between 1/3rd and 1/2 of the back
> yard.  At this same time we would bring in one dump truck load of topsoil to
> incorporate with what we currently have .

> After this, we would bring in a load of mulch, and heavily mulch this entire
> area.  Once this was done we would plan to let this sit until next year in
> order to allow the mulch to begin to decompose and allow earthworms and such
> to begin working in these areas.

> Next year we would add an inground irrigation system and begin bringing
> plants into this area.

> This seems like a big job and we'd plan to do it ourselves with the possible
> assistance of some willing friends.  Does this seem like a good plan?  Any
> suggestions?

> One big question we're wrestling with this what to do with the "grass" in
> the area we're planning to work with.  There's not much grass there overall
> (due to the hard soil) but there are some fairly healthy patches.  Would it
> be OK to just till this into the soil in order to add organic material or is
> this asking for trouble?  I'd figure that the addition of heavy mulch over
> the top would stop this from growing and cause it decay.  True?

> I've heard that gypsum is good to use with heavy clay soil as it causes it
> to lose it's solidity.  Would it be beneficial to work some of this into the
> existing soil when we till it?

> Any other ideas or hints would be welcome.

Don't try to bite off the entire garden in one chunk, you aren't
landscaping a new McBurger joint. Do a little at a time lest the job
become tiresome and your enthusiasm die.
See if there is municipal compost available, or find out where the
tree services dump their chips.

- Show quoted text -

Quote:

> Tony